Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

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He was the first black heavyweight champion in history, the most celebrated–and most reviled–African American of his age. InUnforgivable Blackness, the prizewinning biographer Geoffrey C. Ward brings to vivid life the real Jack Johnson, a figure far more complex and compelling than the newspaper headlines he inspired could ever convey. Johnson battled his way from obscurity to the top of the heavyweight ranks and in 1908 won the greatest prize in American sports–one that had always been the private preserve of white boxers. At a time when whites ran everything in America, he took orders from no one and resolved to live as if color did not exist. While most blacks struggled just to survive, he reveled in his riches and his fame. And at a time when the mere suspicion that a black man had flirted with a white woman could cost him his life, he insisted on sleeping with whomever he pleased, and married three. Because he did so the federal government set out to destroy him, and he was forced to endure a year of prison and seven years of exile. Ward points out that to most whites (and to some African Americans as well) he was seen as a perpetual threat–profligate, arrogant, amoral, a dark menace, and a danger to the natural order of things.

Unforgivable Blackness
is the first full-scale biography of Johnson in more than twenty years. Accompanied by more than fifty photographs and drawing on a wealth of new material–including Johnson’s never-before-published prison memoir–it restores Jack Johnson to his rightful place in the pantheon of American individualists.

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User Review  - DougBaker - www.librarything.com

In the introduction to his biography of Jack Johnson, Geoffrey C. Ward indicates that his primary source was newspaper articles. And indeed, this biography reads much like a very long newspaper ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - deep220 - LibraryThing

Normally I wouldn't have much interest in the biography of a boxer. But for the last 6 years I have been dating one, so eventually it was going to happen. Wow. Jack Johnson led an extraordinary life ... Read full review

Contents

THE RISE
3
CHAPTER EIGHT
225
NOTES
453
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Geoffrey C. Ward won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1989. With Ken Burns, he is coauthor of The Civil War and Jazz. He lives in New York City.

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